It was late at night, the sky was moonless, and a few dim yellow streetlights illuminated the roadside. The air was still damp from the rain.
A girl wearing a pink bear pajama dress had faint sleep marks on her fair cheeks. Her almond-shaped eyes were hazy and dreamy. She wore flip-flops, revealing a slender and white calf.
There was still some standing water on the road, but she seemed oblivious as she walked through it.
"What's wrong?" She crouched down in front of the boy and asked softly.
The boy looked at her, his eyes blending into the darkness.
He didn't dare to say that he wanted to leave, nor did he dare to ask anything. He just remained silent, staring at her without blinking, as if he wanted to engrave her into his soul in that moment.
A camphor tree swayed gently in the distance, and droplets of dew fell from its leaves.
The young boy sat crouched on the ground, his body already soaked through, his hair sticking to his forehead in strands. He looked pitiful, like a helpless little puppy that had fallen into the water.
The night wind carried with it the chill of the rain, brushing past the young boy's wet body and causing him to shiver uncontrollably.
"You come with me," said Cheng Chu.
The young boy slowly stood up from the ground, but remained rooted in place, his lips pressed tightly together as he stubbornly shook his head.
He should have left quietly, never to appear in her world again, never to disturb her.
As the night grew darker, Cheng Chu looked at the young boy's resistant face and reached out to grab his wrist. "Come with me," she said.
The boy's wrist stiffened for a moment, and he tried to pull away, but Cheng Chu didn't even notice. She just dragged him forward.
"My parents and brother aren't home today, so don't worry," she explained, thinking that the boy was afraid to see her family.
The boy's pale wrist was damp with rain and cold, but in an instant, a scorching heat seemed to surge from that small piece of wrist, carrying with it a fiery current that spread all the way to his heart.
He was powerless, like a puppet on a string, being dragged forward lightly.
The closed door blocked out the howling night wind outside. The living room was lit by a small night light, and the soft light reflected on the smooth marble floor, while the crystal chandelier above refracted little starlight.
The boy stood at the entrance, afraid to go in.
"These are slippers, don't just stand there, come in," the girl turned around and said.
He shook his head again, "I'm very wet."
He didn't want to dirty the place.
"Come in!" Cheng Chu grabbed his hand and pulled him in with force.
But the young man, though thin, was tall and stood still by the shoe cabinet, not moving.
"Do you want me to help you take off your shoes if you're not coming in?" Cheng Chu took a few steps closer and was about to squat down.
The young man hurriedly backed away, waving his hand, "No, no need."
"Then take off your shoes yourself and come in quickly," Cheng Chu said.
Finally, the young man obediently squatted down. He moved quickly, as if afraid that Cheng Chu would come closer again.
After taking off his shoes, he put on slippers and stood obediently in the corner, bowing his head like a little dog that had done something wrong.
Cheng Chu's heart softened a little.
She was still a little angry that he didn't answer the phone, causing her to worry all day.
But now that she sees him coming to find her in the pouring rain, huddled under the eaves, all her anger dissipates.
The room is quiet, and Cheng Chu speaks softly, "Come up with me."
The wooden stairs make a few creaking sounds in the quiet night as the young man obediently follows her up.
But his steps are heavy, as if each one is stepping on the young man's heart, which is as cold as ice, heavy and oppressive. He hates himself for not being satisfied, always greedily approaching her, repeatedly giving up his original promise.
But the young man looks at the girl's back and understands in his heart how fortunate he is.
Through the long corridor, the girl pushes open the door and pushes him straight into the bathroom.
"You're all wet now, take off your clothes and take a shower to avoid catching a cold," the girl walked over to the bathtub and showed him how to control and adjust the water temperature.
Gu Miao stood still in place.
"I'll go find some of my brother's clothes for you. You're about the same height, so they should fit," the girl continued.
The boy's fingers trembled, and his mind momentarily stopped thinking.
"I'll go find the clothes first, and when I find them, I'll leave them at the door for you," the girl walked out of the bathroom, but after a few seconds, she poked her head back in. "Don't just stand there, hurry up, or you'll get a fever tomorrow."
His body was soaked through with rain, but warmth rose from the bottom of his heart.
The girl closed the door, and the large mirror in the bathroom reflected his disheveled appearance.
He felt a little regretful that this was the last time he would see her, and he had embarrassed himself like this. This bathroom was much larger than his original room, with all sorts of shower gels, shampoos, and body lotions on the shelf next to the bathtub.
The boy's face suddenly turned red, and a hint of regret flashed in his cold eyes. He wished he could slap himself hard.
He washed quickly, as if he was escaping, and just as Cheng Chu had put down his clothes, a hand reached out from the crack in the bathroom door.
"So fast?" Cheng Chu stuffed his clothes into the boy's hand, still feeling the lingering steam on his arm.
The hand froze for a moment, and then a dry, hoarse voice came from the empty bathroom, "Hmm."
Cheng Chu went downstairs to make ginger tea, and when she carefully entered the room, she found the boy standing by the window. The clothes on him seemed a bit loose, but the clean white shirt still showed off the young man's upright figure.
He held his wet clothes in his hands and looked up nervously at the sound of footsteps.
"Where should I wash my clothes?" he asked hesitantly.
He was afraid of dirtying the girl's sink, so he didn't dare to wash them there.
"Give them to me, I'll take care of it for you," Cheng Chu offered, handing him a cup of ginger tea.
But the young man clutched his clothes tightly, his voice trembling with anxiety. "No, no, how can I let you wash them?"
Even touching them was not allowed.
"What are you thinking? Of course, we'll put them in the washing machine," Cheng Chu laughed.
The young man's pale hand showed blue veins on the back. "I'll go put them in."
"You don't know how to use it. Hey, give them to me," Cheng Chu insisted and took the wet clothes from him without hesitation.
As she accidentally touched the boy's cold hand, she shivered slightly and said, "Look at how cold your hands are, you should drink this."
The strong ginger aroma filled the air, dispersing the damp chill of the rainy night. Holding the ginger tea in her hands, warmth spread from the white porcelain cup all the way to her heart.
He took a sip and the sweetness melted in his mouth.
"I'll put your clothes in the washing machine first, don't worry, they'll dry quickly after I dry them." The girl smiled.
The curtains were a light shade of blue, like a clear summer sky.
As the girl walked out onto the balcony, her graceful silhouette was reflected on the curtains.
But suddenly, that figure froze.
"What's wrong?" Gu Miao's heart tightened.
The light blue curtains were pushed aside, revealing a brightly lit room.
The girl stood on the balcony, her eyes filled with a layer of shallow tears. She held the damp piece of paper between her fingers, raindrops falling to the ground and creating a small puddle.
Gu Miao's breath caught in her throat as she lowered her gaze, unable to bear the sight of his tear-filled eyes.
Outside, the rain continued to fall, casting a slanted shadow on the balcony and brushing against the girl's long, dark hair.
"Where are you going?" Her voice trembled with emotion, the last syllable trailing off in a quiver.
The young man's hands were clenched so tightly that his knuckles turned white, but he remained silent.
The room fell into a heavy silence, the ink on the paper already smudged by the rain, but Cheng Chu knew that it was a train ticket.
She balled her hand into a fist, crumpling the paper into a tiny ball. In that moment, she remembered the way he had looked at her with a mix of longing and sorrow at the door, just like he was doing now.
It was as if they were reliving that rainy night of separation from a past life, with him gazing at her with the same eyes. Her vision blurred for a moment before clearing up in the next second.
"Don't cry," the boy walked over and stopped just as his hands were about to touch her cheeks. His fingertips trembled, but he didn't dare to move any closer.
The next second, the girl suddenly threw herself into his arms. Her body was cold and damp from the rain, but it made the boy's heart feel hot in an instant.
He knew he should push her away, but the wetness on his neck felt like a flame, and the emotions raging inside him burned away the last of his rationality.
He held the girl tightly, and his empty heart was filled in an instant.
"Don't cry," he sighed helplessly.
There was no moon on this rainy night, and the girl looked up with teary eyes that seemed like lonely stars. But those stars fell into the boy's heart, rolling on the knives and causing him a sharp pain.
"Don't cry," he stumbled over his words, unable to say anything else, only able to awkwardly repeat himself.
The girl's tears fell like scattered beads, "I won't let you go."
He closed his eyes in agony, feeling like his bottom line was about to be crossed.
The room was quiet, except for the girl's soft sobs, "You're not going to school, not answering calls, and now you want to leave."
She pushed away from him in anger, wiping her tears, her voice full of grievance, "I went to find you and someone pushed me in the alley, injuring my hands and feet."
That moment of warmth left, taking with it Gu Miao's trembling heartbeat.
"Where are you hurt? Let me see." His rational thoughts disappeared, and he carefully grabbed the girl's wrist, his voice trembling with urgency.
Cheng Chu pursed her lips and opened her palm, which was covered in fine scratches.
She looked at the young man with such heartache in her eyes that tears threatened to fall, but stubbornly asked, "Why do you have to leave?"
The night was quiet, and even the sound of rain falling could be heard clearly.
The young man closed his eyes, his voice hoarse and difficult, "I shouldn't disturb the two of you."
He understood that if he stayed by her side and watched her be intimate with others day after day, he would probably go crazy.
It was his own greed that made him hope for something that didn't belong to him.
"Who are you talking about?" Cheng Chu asked.
The young man's voice drifted in the night, cool with the touch of rain.
"You and Lin Qifeng."
His lips turned white, and he gritted his teeth, calling her by her nickname for the first time, "Chuchu, I--"
The remaining words were blocked as the girl leaned in on her tiptoes and kissed the boy's slightly cool lips.
Outside, the rain was drizzling.
His world shattered and froze in an instant.
The author has something to say:
Gu Miao: Is this real? Is it real? Really?
Translations during sleepless nights. I can sleep when I'm dead! ...Please let me sleep. Happy readers keep me awake, and lots of love and a huge thank you for supporting my hobby!
Give me feedback at moc.ebircssutol@ypeels.